x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

'It's eclectic and very liveable'

Home in the life of: Dickie Bannenberg, the son of Jon Bannenberg, who runs a successful design studio in partnership with Simon Rowell.

"We have two teenaged children and it's very much a fully functioning family base, complete with wet rowing kit, dog and all the rest," said Dickie Bannenberg.

The son of Jon Bannenberg, universally acknowledged as the "inventor" of contemporary yacht design, Dickie Bannenberg runs a successful design studio in partnership with Simon Rowell. He lives within walking distance of his office in London.


Even though we moved house only once there was constant change, as Dad was always experimenting. With hindsight it was pretty racy but I thought it was just normal. Until I was about seven we lived in a beautiful early Georgian house on King's Road, in the thick of Swinging Sixties London. Behind the historic façade it was anything but classical - I remember fire-engine red screens and a huge Indian cabinet. And there was a courtyard garden behind the house with a studio extension. When we moved [to a classical stucco-fronted house only one block away] it was even more radical. There were orange beams in the kitchen, a stainless-steel island, cork-faced doors. There were no curtains or blinds; for privacy, the windows facing the street had fine lattice screens that let in dappled light.


Dad never tried to steer me in his direction. I did a degree in geography at Cambridge then worked on House & Garden magazine but I'm sure his influence seeped in over the years and I have absorbed a lot of his approach and outlook by osmosis. I think it has made me slightly braver and less conventional in terms of the things I mix together, the colours I use and so on. Simon worked on very high-end hotels before we set up the studio together and he brings a more disciplined approach, so we have a good balance. To a degree I think Dad's unconventional approach to the spaces on yachts has given me a greater sense of freedom in my designs too.


Yes, we live in a stucco-fronted terraced house that is typical for London - until you go to the back, where we knocked out the walls and added an enormous double-height glass box. I did it with an architect friend from university. I couldn't have done it without him, although the interior design and decoration is all home grown. We have lived there for more than 10 years now but it still takes people by surprise.

The dominant elements are pale grey limestone and white lacquer so it's quite minimal. But it's certainly not Pawson-esque; I'd call it contemporary and approachable. It's quite eclectic and very liveable - like the whole house.


We're quite similar - although she is the ruthless de-clutterer of the family. Anything she can get her hands on she'll sell on eBay. I'm not a total hoarder but one of the great pleasures of my work is being exposed to so many new things - and being in the happy position of being able to do something about owning them. For instance, we used a beautiful 1960s spiky orange glass vase by Venini for a photo shoot on Predator. I liked it so much that I bought it to keep - so it's fair to say that working among all these things is not very advantageous financially. However, I resist the temptation of seeing amazing AV systems or lighting or furniture and saying 'I have to have that'. It would be very easy to be seduced but anything I do buy is relatively modest and a one-off - things that please me to look at, rather than some of the major systems such as media rooms that we install on yachts.


No, I find it very easy to resist tweaking and experimenting the way Dad constantly did. I'm largely happy with the house and regard it more as a haven. We have two teenaged children and it's very much a fully functioning family base, complete with wet rowing kit, dog and all the rest. The luxury about home for me is that it's a great place where we can still get together as a family - albeit with some interesting things around us. We have a lovely Arne Jacobsen dining table that we all sit around at least once a week for a proper family meal.


I love the glass box and it's a great place for playing my alto sax: since it is quite hard-edged it's rather noisy but the acoustic is great. But my favourite room is the family room-cum-living room and TV room on the first floor. We've got old ship models there and a big B&B Italia sofa. It's a laid-back family space - quite smart, chic and layered but liveable, not poncey.


To a degree, yes - although the starting point for every project is to give it a strong identity of its own. But there is a certain B&R handwriting, and it is a bit like my style at home, I think - chic and smart but very approachable and liveable. A place where you're OK in shorts and a polo shirt hanging out with family, and can also entertain in style when you want to. * www.bannenbergandrowell.com